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Thursday 27th October 2016

Skin cancer risk from flip flops

19th July 2011

Experts say that wearing baseball caps and flip-flops could lead to a dangerous form of skin cancer.


Baseball caps leave the tips of the ears exposed to the sun's rays, while flip-flops expose the tops of the feet to intense sunlight after they remain covered for most of the year.

Rebecca Tung, head of dermatology at Illinois' Loyola University Medical Center, said that most skin cancers occur on the parts of the body that are repeatedly exposed to the sun.

She said there was a real potential for skin cancers in those areas, particularly on the tips of the ears.

Broad-brimmed hats and closed-in shoes used to be more popular, but the trend towards wearing baseball caps and open sandals means people are more at risk than before.

She said many people often forgot to put sunscreen on their feet or ears, which made the exposure even more risky.

Nearly half of all cancers in the US are skin cancer, making it the most common form of cancer in the country.

Melanoma is a potentially fatal form of the disease, and was responsible for the death of reggae legend Bob Marley, who had cancer on his toe.

Tung recommended applying a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every day, together with a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt and trousers.

She cautioned that people should stay out of the sun between 10.00am and 3.00pm and avoid sunbathing and tanning salons.

In London, healthcare workers reported seeing at least two cases of sun-related foot cancer in recent months.

One patient had had a foot, or "acral", melanoma which had gone undetected for two years.

The mortality rate for cancers on the feet is high -- around 50% -- compared with cancers elsewhere on the legs.

Doctors say people sometimes mistake the cancers that appeared on their feet for bruising or injuries.

The recent fashion for open-toed sandals and flipflops means that people often expose their feet to a sudden blast of intense sunlight.

Acral melanoma is often found on the sole of the foot, between the toes or under the toenails.

It does not cause any pain or discomfort and is hard to spot, meaning that it can remain undetected and spread to other parts of the body.

Bob Marley refused a toe amputation when his foot cancer was diagnosed, citing religious reasons. The cancer spread, eventually causing the singer's death.


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